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Teach Me to Box


Just simmer down, silverware,

and stay in the icebox like a good little salad.

Where do you think you’re going,

elocution class? I used to admire

your poignant nose, your mouth

rippling up from your jaw

in a dipping crest that suggested

not merely disdain,

but a full and deep understanding

acquired over years of study

that led you to this moment

when you regretfully explain

precisely why you cannot love him.

Her hair was pulled back, black

with thick lines of light

shining off it in stripes

like sunlight off a record.

She held her cards in one hand

and my arm with the other.

“Stop,” she said. “You don’t know

what he’s capable of.”

Then she smeared across the floor

like Sunday by the sea. California

gossip, Connecticut cherrytree.

Bowls stacked in the kitchen

rumble back and forth,

the waiter’s desperate eyes

skittering around like moths

as his winding hands flutter

into his mouth. It would give me

no end of pleasure to leave your wardrobe forever.

Instead I walk through the night

in my thick painting and hat

waiting for someone in a life vest to come along,

tie me up, and set the egg timer for years.

The yellow man lay at the bottom of the stairs,

knocked out but breathing,

and I looked at you, clutching the banister

as feathers dropped sluggishly around you.

Could anything be done with us?

Was it always going to be this unmentionable proof

trailing after each moment like a wake?

I think our faces are completely determinate.

I fell into a category and came to rely on it

like shrubs skimming the interstate,

growing impossibly among fumes.

I just wanted the police to know,

their guns drawing open the shade

as light splatters across the bedroom

and wakes the bewildered orphan.

from Ethical ConsciousnessFind more by Paul Killebrew at the library

Copyright © 2013 Paul Killebrew
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

Published in Paul Killebrew Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.